Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

It’s 3 p.m., let’s watch Little Richard freak out about Jimi Hendrix’s greatness

Illustration for article titled It’s 3 p.m., let’s watch Little Richard freak out about Jimi Hendrix’s greatness
Photo: Left: David Redfern/ Right: Ben Rose (Getty Images)

It’s 3 p.m.! Let The A.V. Club briefly make use of the waning hours of your productivity with some pop culture ephemera pulled from the depths of YouTube.


While it’s easy to think that just about every superlative in the world has been used to describe Jimi Hendrix’s guitar playing, there are several descriptions that only the world’s most creative minds could think up.

Take, for example, a video of The King of Rock and Roll himself, Little Richard, reminiscing about Hendrix’s playing with some deeply impressive, wildly amped-up, Sly and the Family Stone-inflected vocabulary.

Pulled from 1973's Jimi Hendrix documentary, Little Richard, in baby blue robe and shiny tiara, waxes poetic about the mid-’60s era when Hendrix was a member of his band, The Upsetters. Richard, with the barely contained energy of a coiled slinky, tells the camera that Hendrix “was a star” when he worked with him. While this is a familiar description of raw talent, he goes a bit further, reminding listeners that “Sly told you that everybody is a star” and that “the only problem is some people haven’t been put in the Dipper and pulled back on the world.” “That’s what the answer is,” he tells both us and himself before making convoluted hand motions describing how this constellation-assisted, star-making process creates artists like Hendrix.

A moment later, Richard is dangling his bell-bottomed legs off the front of a piano he’s sitting on and bouncing up and down talking about how when he heard Hendrix playing “at times he used to make my big toe shoot up in my boot ... he did it so good.” Aside from the quality of his music, we learn that “[Hendrix] didn’t mind looking freaky, like I don’t mind” and Richard pauses to caress his hair and smooth his mustache.

There is more, of course, but the takeaway, really, is that Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix managed to “spread a little joy and love together. To show the world that the end is not yet.” This dissolves into another Sly Stone quote about taking you higher and some occasionally shrieking praise about Hendrix being better than cocaine or “a piece of grass” or heroin.

Hendrix fans may remember that Little Richard is forgetting a few of the details of their shared career in all of this, however: like, y’know, how he fired Hendrix (whether because he didn’t want to be upstaged or because Hendrix was always late and flirting with women) from his band. This may explain the clip’s ending where Richard, casting back through his memory, says he was never allowed backstage “to see him after he made it.” His recall may not have been great on this front, but it serves him well with what’s really important: the cosmos-bending origins of Hendrix’s star and the most appropriate Family Stone singles with which to describe his work.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.